Court unshackles Arizona Abortion Consent Act

Ariz. Court of Appeals says state laws protecting pregnant women are constitutional
Thursday, August 11, 2011

Attorney sound bites (8/11/11):  Steven H. Aden  |  Deborah Sheasby

PHOENIX — The Arizona Court of Appeals Thursday found Arizona’s Abortion Consent Act constitutional and lifted a judge’s order that had stalled its implementation after Planned Parenthood filed suit. In March of last year, ADF--together with the Center for Arizona Policy, the Bioethics Defense Fund, and the Life Legal Defense Foundation--appealed the judge’s order, which tied up new state laws designed to protect the health and safety of pregnant women and their preborn children.

“If Planned Parenthood truly cared about what’s best for women, they wouldn’t be repeatedly going to court around the nation to stop laws that allow women to make fully informed choices,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden, who argued before the Court of Appeals on June 14. “The court ruled rightly in this case in rejecting the arguments of the nation’s largest purveyor of abortion. The protection of women is not unconstitutional.”

“We hold that the statutes at issue would withstand federal constitutional scrutiny,” the Court of Appeals wrote in its 3-0 opinion, “and that the Arizona Constitution--to the extent it protects abortion rights at all--offers no greater protection than the federal constitution with respect to the regulations at issue in this case…. We hold that the statutes affected by the preliminary injunction are constitutional, and we therefore vacate the injunction in its entirety.”

The Arizona Abortion Consent Act prohibits non-physicians from performing surgical abortions, provides for women to receive full and accurate information at least 24 hours before an abortion, protects health care workers who object to performing or facilitating abortions, and requires notarized parental consent for minors seeking abortions. The legislation also ensures that women receive information on abortion alternatives, long-term medical risks, and the probable gestational age of the preborn child at the time of the requested abortion.

“Everyone deserves full and accurate information before undergoing any medical procedure,” said Center for Arizona Policy Legal Counsel Deborah Sheasby, co-counsel and one of more than 2,000 attorneys in the ADF alliance. “These types of protections have been repeatedly upheld and are overwhelmingly supported by the public.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld 24-hour waiting periods, and multiple polls have found overwhelming public support for protections like those included in Arizona’s act.

The appeal in the case, Planned Parenthood Arizona v. Horne, was filed on behalf of legislators, doctors, and numerous organizations who all sought to intervene in the case to defend the act’s protections. The Court of Appeals granted intervention to most of the parties.
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.